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Romeo and Juliet

Last night we started watching this ancient film, which I missed when it was made, due to kids, Church etc.:

This is the version of Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes when they were babies, the one that retains the actual old-timey dialog from the original, but VISUALLY and otherwise is updated to a fictional Verona in 1996, looking uncannily like L.A. but with certain unique additions (like billboards and graffiti) which make it as strange as the NYC in Watchmen.

I'm no Shakespeare scholar but over the years I have read or seen most of his most famous plays several times, and from several approaches.

This movie is REALLY COOL! Oddly enough, the contemporary gang-war setting makes a lot of the Shakespeare-talk much easier to follow and appreciate. GOD DAMN but that guy sure knew how to take a plain sentence and make it studlier than all git-out.

This was one of those hundreds of movies that I read glowing (or hating) reviews of when they came out, sighed, and made a mental note to check it out if I ever again got spare time for such things. And now that I have such time (45 min a night anyway) I have been methodically seeing all those movies I missed.

This one kicks ass! It's like one great big long music video in Shakespearean-talk with Prince songs added (but as sung by boys' choirs and such). Mercutio is a tranny. The fight scenes are great and there are plenty of them, using guns instead of swords. The guns have names like "SWORD 9mm Series S." When Romeo first sees Juliet he is tripping balls at a party, which explains a lot really in the context of the story.

It made Princess Wei and me ever so glad that our fathers weren't rival Mafia lords. After we turned it off at bed-time, we continued to speak to each other in lofty and poetic cadence until we turned out the lights. If I watched Shakespeare every night for a month I would end up talking that way ALL THE TIME. I might sound more like Bacon than Shakespeare, but… hey, everybody loves Bacon.

review by Rev. Ivan Stang